Monday, February 28, 2011

E-book readers' bill of rights

 This awesome post has been bouncing around the internet, where I saw it on Andy Woodworth's blog and Sarah Houghton-Jan's blog. For those who aren't aware, discussions about e-books have been taking place after Harper-Collins' announcement that they would be limiting e-book circulation at libraries to 26 uses. This causes tons of problems for access, and while I understand publishers need to make money to continue functioning, my main concern is for library patrons, readers (including students) and for authors.
LIS students--this is a must-read and the topic is one we should all follow. If for no other reason, as a patron who wants to read e-books or even share a book with another student, you want to know that you can use those texts. I have seen a number of people say that e-books are not paper books, and that we need a new set of rules to deal with them. Maybe, but whether or not the suggestions they make are the be all and end all, they are an awesome start because they deal with access and with getting books to readers: the purpose for which they were written in the first place. Since digital books open up the potential for even greater access and sharing because they can be copied almost instantly and without the overhead and resources necessary to create print books. I'm keeping my eyes peeled to see what happens.
I've included the text of the original post below: the authors have graciously made it a public domain work so that you can alter it to add your own insights about user rights you would like to see.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:
  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.
I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.
Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.
I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.
I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks.  I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.
These rights are yours.  Now it is your turn to take a stand.  To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others.  Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Open Access Resources

I am doing a presentation in one of my classes (Search and Discovery with Cliff Missen) about OA vs proprietary journals. In order to keep all the sources I use in one spot that students can access later on, I've compiled them into this blog post. Another bonus? LIS students (and everyone else) can use this post as a way to learn more about Open Access too!

Here's the article I'm reviewing for the class: 
The Importance of OA, OSS, & Open Standards for Libraries
Basically, the author discusses the benefits of 'open' models (Open Access, Open Source Software, Open Standards) for libraries. I chose it because it covers the basics without being intimidating, and is a good way to nudge those who are scared of giant, wordy research papers toward an understanding of the topic. What I like about it is it's short and to the point (probably as long as most of my blog posts) and gives a great, easy-to-understand overview of how libraries can benefit from implementing OA and OSS into their day-to-day running.

What is OA?
Most of my readers probably know, but for my classmates who may not have spent much time with it I'll give a brief description. Open Access publishing refers to a model that prizes accessibility over profits. Traditional publishing models have a lot of overhead (printing, large staff, advertising, etc) that translates to large subscription costs that are beyond the reach of most individuals and even most libraries. A good anecdote from our instructor: He met some folks from an African library (I can't remember which country) who were excited to win a 2 year subscription to an academic journal database. They were so disappointed after 2 years to discover how expensive it was, because it meant they had to cancel that subscription and were not able to offer those resources to their patrons.
Open Access journals do not charge readers and keep all content online, so it can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (not everyone has Internet, of course, but it's a useful resource for those who do). Part of the reason this is possible is the lack of overhead associated with printing, and other options to reduce cost and generate revenue vary depending on the journal (B Sides, for example, is a part of the University of Iowa IR so we don't pay for server space or tech support. We also don't pay our editors, so we don't have to generate revenue for salaries. For some other journals, revenue for server space, etc. is generated by charging fees to authors to submit. I personally think this should be avoided at all costs, but there aren't many other options open if you operate outside a large research university). For another discussion of OA, check out Peter Suber's page.

My Experiences with OA
You all know about my editorial experience, but I'm not sure I've talked much about my experience as an author. I have published one article in B Sides, and I have an essay in press at Library Student Journal. LSJ has a *much* larger editorial staff than B Sides, but the process is much the same: submit an article, it's read by reviewers, returned for revisions, and if the revisions are up to snuff it's published. What I love about publishing with OA journals is that I get a *much* wider readership than I imagine I've gotten in my other publications. I get monthly statistics emailed to me about my B Sides article, and it's had almost 200 readers in less than a year. For a journal that's just gotten off the ground and an article that probably 15 people would have read in a print journal, that's pretty impressive. OA journal staff, being a part of a movement to change publishing, also tend to have their fingers in other projects and are open to new ideas. B Sides is throwing a conference on March 25th to teach students about presenting/attendance and to facilitate networking. LSJ tries to provide new resources to students whenever possible (including their recently launched blog). 

Ways for Students to Learn More
Students can get involved in Open Access publishing through already-existing journals (including my perennial favorites, B Sides and Library Student Journal). If your department or school has a student journal, that might be another option. For students who want to publish outside LIS, check out the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) to see what's out there. All journals provide opportunities to publish, although some also have openings for other ways to get involved by peer reviewing or serving on the editorial staff. It's a great way to learn more about OA and it looks good on your resume!

List of Suggested Readings
I'm going to be compiling this over the next few days, so if you have ideas, please feel free to share in the comments! 
100 Extensive University Libraries Anyone can Access
Gives some great resources for those without all the databases of a large research institution (or for those looking for resources not in those databases).
Blog dealing with Open Source and Open Standards.
Thomas Jefferson and OA
Thomas Jefferson did not know anything about OA, but this awesome quote by him has been circulated by enthusiasts.
The first Open Source American
Interesting article on how Ben Franklin's approach to the creative process mirrors the Open Source movement.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Engaged Library

Tonight in class, our discussion was on search (hardly surprising in a class on Search & Discovery), but the last few minutes of the class really got me thinking about the ways libraries engage users by learning about them. We all know that companies use cookies and other tracking technology to learn more about our browsing/shopping/searching habits. Some of them are quite good at it, and some miss the boat entirely by focusing one message only by targeting the location of the IP address but not targeting their message ("Iowa City mom finds $5 trick to whiten teeth" folks, I'm talking to you). I tend to find a lot of advertising annoying at best and intrusive at worst, but obviously it's effective or people wouldn't be taking the time to design ads and pay to drop them all over the web. Our instructor, Cliff Missen (of Widernet Project fame) summed it up perfectly: "Advertisers, Google, etc. know users so well, but we don't see that going on in libraries."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Librarian as Poet

I'm working on creating some pretty exciting appendices for my book manuscript at the moment, and the joy of this is getting to review the documents I based my research on so that I can share some of them with readers. In the process, I found this snippet from Grace D. Rose, librarian of Davenport Public Library:

Opening upon a world at war and our country devoting every effort to a vigorous prosecution of her part in the conflict, and closing with the guns at rest and a hopeful looking forward to permanent peace, 1918 was a most eventful year. (Source: Davenport PL 1918 Annual Report, pg 7).
What a way to open the Report of the Librarian! Some of you might remember my post on Helen McRaith of Iowa City, and her beautiful, flowery language when discussing the role of the library in modern life. I love that this sort of beautiful language was being employed in something as seemingly mundane as an annual report--Rose's writing sounds almost like the opening of a tense piece of homefront fiction. I haven't spent as much time with more recent annual reports, but it definitely makes me wonder if we're using equally compelling language to tell our libraries' stories today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Diversity in LIS Education

A couple things have happened lately that have caused me to spend some serious time contemplating diversity issues in LIS. The first was a post made on a professional listserv I follow. One individual shared a letter she had written to Iowa legislators about a number of issues, including library funding. She mentioned that the letter included other issues, but that she shared it on the list for those who were struggling to find words when talking to elected officials about libraries. For those of you who aren't from Iowa, you may or may not know that a lot of people here are very divided at the moment over the issue of gay marriage, and the fact that this woman's letter included mention of her support for gay marriage was upsetting to some other list members.
One member's response was basically, "if she wants to go against what THE BIBLE says, that's her right, but keep libraries out of it." I tend to stay away from angry listserv discussions (people get riled up about everything from tuna fish to book boards on the lists I follow, and most of the time I just sigh and delete the thread), but this instance was one where I felt compelled to respond and say that the list included non-Christian individuals, and that not only did that response make them uncomfortable, it took time and attention away from the library issues the list was created to discuss. I did not mention my stance on gay marriage in the hopes that I could diffuse things rather than add my own anger to the discussion (but, for the record, I'm an ardent supporter!) I also wanted to avoid belittling the author's views, because she has most likely formed them with as much care as I have formed my own.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Analytics and You

Stephen Abram just put this post on his awesome Lighthouse blog, and I wanted to pass it along to my readers. I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again: if you aren't following his blog, you should be. And follow him on Twitter too (@sabram)--there really are few people out there who post so frequently on so many timely topics that impact wide portions of the LIS field. I *love* tracking my stats, and Topsy seems like another great tool to add to the arsenal. I just checked my Twitter mentions, and it allowed me to see what days were most active over the last two weeks (which, if checked regularly, can help me see what posts are having the greatest impact and are being shared the most).
Why should you care about keeping track of your stats? As an LIS student or new professional, it's a good way to know what social media actions are drawing attention and thus to be able to use social media tools more effectively. It also helps you manage your online presence (for a really great post about 'listening' in social media, see Dierdre Reid's blog!)
Thanks largely to Dierdre's post, I started keeping tighter track of my online presence through Google Alerts: if you have a Google account, I recommend setting them up. I set up alerts for my Twitter accounts, B Sides journal, both my blogs, and my name. I get an email for each one around noon each day, and while many of the links are false positives, there have been quite a few links that ended up being accurate and led me to mentions of myself and my work that I otherwise wouldn't have known about! I also check my blog stats daily, and I check my Twitter mentions and retweets multiple times a day by making columns for them in my Hootsuite account. I'll be adding Topsy to this list!
Fellow LIS students, what are you using to track your stats? And what impact has it had on your online presence and your use of social media tools?